If you prefer to meet a client in person and must fly to do so, chances are you have spent anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour waiting in line at TSA Security at BWI or at one of Washington, D.C.’s airports. However, thanks to an innovative government program called TSA Pre-Check, you can eliminate the hassle of waiting in line.
What Is It?
TSA Pre-Check allows approved travelers the opportunity to enter a separate, expedited line at the TSA checkpoint for domestic and international travel at participating U.S. airports. There are more than 115 airports nationwide in the program, including all three in our area – BWI, DCA (Ronald Reagan National) and IAD (Dulles), and you must be traveling on one of the nine participating airlines (see box for list). This allows for a much faster experience and eliminates the need to remove your shoes, jacket, belt and your laptop from carry-on bag.
What does TSA Pre™ mean for travelers?
• Quicker transit through airport security screening
Who Is Eligible?
There is a strict criterion for eligibility to ensure safety for all passengers, but there are several ways to be eligible to TSA Pre-Check. Those eligible to apply are:
• U.S. citizens of frequent flyer programs who meet TSA-mandated criteria and who have been invited by a participating airline.
• U.S. citizens with a Known Traveler Number.
• U.S. citizens, U.S. nationals and Lawful Permanent Residents who are members of the TSA Pre™ application program.
• U.S. citizens who are members of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection trusted traveler program, such as Global Entry, SENTRI and NEXUS.
• Canadian citizens who are members of NEXUS.
• Members of the U.S. Armed Forces, including those serving in the U.S. Coast Guard, Reserves, and National Guard.
After completing enrollment, successful applicants will receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) via U.S. mail approximately two to three weeks following the visit to the application center. Once approved as eligible for TSA Pre-Check, the enrollee must enter the provided KTN in the “Known Traveler Number” field when booking travel reservations.
So unless you have been invited by one of your airline’s frequent flier program or are a member of the military, your best bet is to apply through the TSA’s website. Brian Buebel, a Baltimore-based financial advisor who flies 10 times a month for business, heard about the program online. “As a frequent traveler with essentially a commute that involves air travel, I follow the news on programs that can make that commuting a little easier. So, I track what is happening in the news and on travel blogs,” he says.
• Alaska Airlines
• American Airlines
• Delta Air Lines
• Hawaiian Airlines
• JetBlue Airways
• Southwest Airlines
• United Airlines
• US Airways
• Virgin America
However, for Elysia Stobbe, branch manager of VanDyk Mortgage in Jacksonville, Fla. (www.closein30days.com), who is licensed to provide mortgage services in Florida and Maryland, she discovered that she was eligible for TSA Pre-Check when applying for Global Entry, a U.S. Customs and Border Protection program that allows expedited clearance for pre-approved, low-risk travelers upon arrival in the United States. At airports, program participants proceed to Global Entry kiosks, present their machine-readable passport or U.S. permanent resident card, place their fingertips on the scanner for fingerprint verification, and make a customs declaration.
“After I had been to South Africa and other international trips, I thought it would be nice to be able to get to the front of the line before my next international trip, which was to Fiji. At the Global Entry interview last September, the officer interviewing me informed me that it also included TSA Pre-Check.” She explains that one’s Global Entry program membership number is also the “Known Traveler Number,” which when provided to the airlines allows access to TSA Pre-Check clearance. “I have used the TSA Pre-Check a lot since then,” says Stobbe, who had to travel to Orlando, Fla., for her in-person interview, but she says it was worth the $100 investment, and the card is valid for 10 years. Stobbe says she flies every 10 days or so since she conducts mortgage business in Florida and Maryland, as well as to conferences and networking events. Buebel also opted for the Global Entry option due to the expedited customs process.
In May, Stobbe flew to Baltimore and Washington, D.C., to meet clients. “In Jacksonville, I was through security in less than one minute, and when I flew home, I was through BWI’s in 2 ½ minutes. Plus, I don’t have to take off my shoes, belt or jacket or take my 3-1-1 liquids or laptop out of my carry-on.” Buebel concurs. “It makes getting through the airport much easier, taking out some of the stress of getting to the airport early, although it’s never guaranteed, so I still leave for the airport when I did in the past, but don’t get stressed if I’m running a few minutes late.
For more information, visit www.tsa.gov/tsa-precheck.